Above is one of a series of coins minted to honor the Chinese Zodiac as well as the great feats of Chinese architecture. These coins were released between the years of 1981 and 1992, and are 15 grams of 85% to 90% pure silver depending on the year. Each of the coins in the series honors a creature of the Zodiac on the reverse face, and a work of architecture on the obverse. The coins were each released in a small blue box, featuring information about the art on each coin.
The Year of the Ram, or Goat, fell in 1991. The 1991 coin features a ewe tending to her lamb on the reverse face, and the Yueyang Tower on the opposing face. In all, 15,000 of these coins were released in 1991.
On the obverse face, one can see the Yueyang Tower, below which appears the inscription, “The People’s Republic of China,” and the year of issue, 1991. The Yueyang Tower, which sits facing the intersection of Lake Dongting and the Yangtze River, was built as a military inspection and training base. As boats would arrive, they would be inspected at base. The navy would also find a place to rest and train. This base was first run during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD) and was first commanded by Lu Su.
On the reverse, one sees a depiction of a ewe tending her lamb, which was painted by Wu Zuoren (1908-1997). The ewe and lamb are under the shade of a tree, and one can sense the affection between the two animals. This picture honors the devoted and caring nature of the sheep, or goat. Wu was a versatile artist, talented in painting, drawing, calligraphy and engraving. He also studied European oil painting, which he incorporated into his works. Above the ewe’s back appears the denomination of the coin, 10 yuan.
In China, the goat represents nurturing and caring femininity. Those born in this year are considered to be kind, giving and wise. People born under this sign are said to be artistic and have a strong sense of aesthetics. Goats may be shy and sensitive or feel the need to be taken care of.
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